Group Chief Data Officer - Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd
- What motivates you on a daily basis – what gets you up in the morning?
I’m an arts-based, right-brain thinker and yet here I am in the data and tech space. So what is it about this world that I find so compelling? For me, data is about stories, and I love listening to and telling stories. We are trained to tell new stories about our customers in order to understand them better and that offers up such a world of possibility.
- How has a setback or obstacle shaped you?
When I think about a point in my career that stands out, it was a time when two things collided quite closely together. The first was that my father died very suddenly in his early 60s. The second was that I found myself in a very big job at quite a young age. It was a job that I was intellectually ready for, but not emotionally ready to do. I was significantly younger than my peer set in the company and I just didn’t have the tools or the ability to ask for help in the right way. I turned to myself to find a solution and concluded that things were my failings and that I needed to work harder. Once you start to work in that way – working longer and longer hours, trying to solve more and more yourself, and delegating less to your people – all that happens is you become very tired and less emotionally capable to deal with what’s going on. It ends up in this horrible cycle of badness.
I left the organisation and I now look back on that as one of the darkest times in my career but the experience has completely framed who I am today.
- How do you feel about doing things differently?
If I reflect on my younger self, I can see now that I was very conscious about the fact I was different and that really bothered me then, as it does a lot of young people. We’re social animals and we want to feel a part of something. Yet now, being different and saying the things that others won’t say, makes me very valuable. As the importance of inclusivity increases you should cherish the things that make you different, because they make you unique.
- What advice would you give your teenage self?
I’d shake my younger self by the shoulders and tell her that there are so many more choices out there than she can ever possibly explore! One of the things that is so hard when you’re at school is imagining all of the opportunities that exists in the world, but if you’re brave, and if you work hard, things will work out.